The ethical question

May 9, 2012

Some people question the ethics of writing about my company on my blog. But I don’t have a problem with it. Is it ethical to ignore the concerns of others and to just do what I want?TSQL2sDay150x150

Anyway – it’s relevant for this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, which Chris Shaw is hosting on the topic of ethics, so I’m going to write a few things about integrity and ethics.

When I hire people to work at LobsterPot Solutions, the main thing I look for is a high level of integrity. I can handle a certain level of technical unfamiliarity – that’s something that can be learned. But I can’t teach integrity in the same way. I can foster it, and I can ensure that it’s an established ‘value’ in the company. It’s the number one thing.

I know a sysadmin company (it wasn’t LobsterPot) that recently lost a bunch of client data – they asked us to help them recover some of the lost data. It was a bad technical mistake they made, but that’s forgivable. They tried really hard to get the data back, and managed to salvage a lot of it, which demonstrated a better level of integrity. When I look at ethics and integrity, it’s not about mistakes, it’s more about the response to mistakes. Their integrity was brought into question over putting the client into a situation where they could’ve lost data – but this wasn’t a question of integrity, it was an honest mistake. The integrity question comes about their response. I like to look at the knee-jerk reaction. If you make a mistake, do you cover it up, or do you try to resolve it? Unfortunately, I think there’s often an element of both, but if the motivation is to protect the other people involved, then I would expect that the integrity level is okay.

Ethics is about good and bad behaviour, and of course, once that definition has been made, choosing good. I’m not going to try to do the definition thing – I think people generally have a feel for what is good and bad (even with data it should be clear – you don’t get to steal client data, etc). The application of ethics comes down to integrity.

At LobsterPot, we try to do the right thing all the time. This doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes – but our first reaction is always to do the right thing by the other parties involved, even if it costs us money.

It has to. We don’t get a choice on this. And if I don’t think that integrity is your driving influence for every decision you make, then I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to hire you.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mark Ginnebaugh

    Good post, Rob.
    I’d also add that it is not just the effort you are willing to put into solving unexpected problems.  You must be up front with clients about any limitations in your experience or capabilities.  We should avoid situations where we are significantly overstating our abilities, and perhaps use those opportunities as a way to reconize partners (friendly competitors, etc.) who can help your prospects better than your own team can.  Given a win-win philosophy, they will return the favor in situations that are more within your sweet spot.

  2. Rob Farley

    Thanks, Mark, and yes, you’re right. In the example I mentioned, the company is very well skilled to manage backups, and it was simply a mistake.

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